AnandTech has published an in-depth look at the changes that will happen to the camera in Android L. Chiefly, they include the introduction of a new camera API that will be available to third party apps, massively increasing the kinds of things can do with the Android camera.
The camera in Android L now provides access to raw data, which will not only make RAW/DNG files possible for serious photographers, but also means the images captured used in ways we haven’t even thought of. Previously apps could only access the image data in three modes: preview, still image and video.
…the elimination of distinction between photo and video is crucial. Because these distinctions are removed, it’s now possible to do burst shots, full resolution photos while capturing lower resolution video, and HDR video. In addition, because the pipeline gives all of the information on the camera state for each image, Lytro-style image refocusing is doable, as are depth maps for post-processing effects. Google specifically cited HDR+ in the Nexus 5 as an example of what’s possible with the new Android camera APIs.
The new camera features are available already in the Android L developer preview, although as yet there are no third party apps that take advantage of them. Photography has been on area where Android has continued to lag behind the iPhone, and even Nokia’s Windows Phones. This release looks set to be a significant milestone for the platform.